- New York City launched a comprehensive map showing the location, species, maintenance status and other information of about 800,000 trees located in city parks and along its streets, the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation announced last week. The tool builds on a previous map that listed 650,000 street trees.
- In addition to helping users explore the city’s urban forest, the map is designed to help care for it. There’s an interactive element with the public – in particular, New Yorkers can digitally report tree conditions to department staff, note their own stewardship activity, and see any completed inspection or recent tree work.
- NYC Parks said in the press release that the NYC Tree Map is “the most comprehensive and up-to-date living tree map in the world.” The trees “provide the air we breathe, help to keep temperatures down, and manage flood waters,” Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi said in the release. “The NYC Tree Map highlights the value of these natural resources and allows New Yorkers to report trees in need of care.”
An urban tree map can serve a variety of purposes. In the case of New York, it aims to educate and engage residents on the importance of trees and maintaining them. A map can also be an inventory when developing urban forest plans, like in Boston. Mapping can also illuminate disparities in the citywide distribution of green resources that mitigate heat and have myriad other benefits.
Google and other companies have sought to bring new technology to urban tree canopy assessments.
A Google Research blog published in June detailed a dataset that combines information from city public tree censuses, Google Street View and overhead imagery. While urban forest mapping and monitoring can be complex and costly, such a tool could help make it more affordable, “enabling the computer vision community to tackle urban forest monitoring at scale for the first time," researchers wrote.
New York City ramped up tree planting efforts this year, reporting a recent high of 13,000 trees planted in fiscal year 2022. Additionally, the New York City Council is seeking a sizable portion of funds that will be available through the state’s $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act of 2022, approved by voters in the November election. Planting trees is one of many possible uses of those funds.
Clarification: A previous version of this story displayed a photo of trees not managed by NYC Parks.